BALTIMORE, Md. – The man who led the sniper investigation has been showered by a grateful public with gifts and flowers, and even has a fan Web site that declares him "a total superhero."
One highway banner urged Montgomery Police Chief Charles Moose, the frontman for the tense three-week probe, to run for president.
"Thanks MD police!" reads the hand-lettered sheet hung from an overpass on Interstate 70 near Frederick, Md. "Moose 4 prez!"
Several other banners hang above highways in Maryland, where John Allen Muhammad, 41, and John Lee Malvo, 17, were captured early Thursday.
Ten people were killed and three were wounded in the string of shootings that stumped police and terrorized residents in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The chief's face, sometimes showing the strain of the investigation, became known across the nation during televised news conferences.
Mail from Moose's fans began to trickle in to police headquarters in Rockville when the deadly shooting spree began, but arrived in heaps after police arrested the suspects, police spokeswoman Nancy Nickerson said.
She said nearly all of the messages are addressed directly to Moose. Thank-yous have arrived from nearby communities where people lived in fear of the rifle-toting gunmen, and from well-wishers as far away as Australia.
The gifts have included Girl Scout cookies, homemade chicken soup and crayoned cards.
A Web site that calls itself the "Chief Moose Fan Club," gushes that the 49-year-old investigator "is really powerful and mighty."
"He is also an eloquent, passionate man," reads the site (www.chiefmoose.com), which features links to an unofficial Moose biography, and a page where fans can post their praises.
One of the site's founders, Bronwen Liggitt, 22, of Baltimore, said she and several friends created it last week. They were glued to television coverage of the manhunt.
"We were scared by the whole thing, and this is the way that we dealt with it," Liggitt said.
Nickerson said Moose is appreciative of the support, but hasn't had much free time to examine the various deliveries.
She said his office "looks like the botanical gardens," with bouquets of flowers now spilling into the hallway at police headquarters, where other gifts also crowd the lobby.
A 2-foot-tall arrangement of sunflowers, gladiolas, roses and birds of paradise arrived Thursday, thanking Moose for his work and signed simply "the community."